Washington, Aug 7 (AFP/APP):There might be life on the Moon after all: thousands of virtually indestructible creatures that can withstand extreme radiation, sizzling heat, the coldest temperatures of the universe, and decades without food.
These terrifying-sounding beings aren’t aliens but instead microscopic Earthlings known as tardigrades, who likely made it out alive following a crash landing on the lunar surface by Israel’s Beresheet probe in April, the US-based organization responsible for their trip said Tuesday.
Based on an analysis of the spacecraft’s trajectory and the composition of the device the micro-animals were stored in, “we believe the chances of survival for the tardigrades… are extremely high,” Nova Spivack, co-founder and chairman of the Arch Mission Foundation, told AFP.
The non-profit is dedicated to spreading backups of human knowledge and Earth’s biology throughout the Solar System, a quest it likens to the creation of an “Encyclopedia Galactica” first evoked by sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov.
“Tardigrades are ideal to include because they are microscopic, multicellular, and one of the most durable forms of life on planet Earth,” said Spivack.
He added that the diminutive creatures, which are under a millimeter (0.04 inches) in size, had been dehydrated to place them in suspended animation, then “encased in an epoxy of Artificial Amber, and should be revivable in the future.”
The tardigrades were stored inside a “Lunar Library,” a nanotechnology device that resembles a DVD and contains a 30-million-page archive of human history viewable under microscopes, as well as human DNA.
Spivack is confident this too survived impact — but it doesn’t represent the first genetic code or life forms to be deposited on the barren celestial body.
That distinction belongs to the DNA and microbes contained in the almost 100 bags of feces and urine left behind by American astronauts during the Apollo lunar landings from 1969-1972.